Orchids have a reputation as being hard to grow because they require specific conditions to thrive and produce the colorful, showy blossoms that captivate people’s attention. So when local gardeners hear that some orchids can successfully be grown outdoors on the Central Coast, their response is generally a surprised “really?”
“Yes really,” says Linda Locatelli, an orchid lover and a member of the Santa Cruz Orchid Society. She’ll be displaying some of the orchids she grows in her yard at the society’s annual orchid show and sale Nov. 2-3 at Soquel High School. The show is co-sponsored by the Soquel High School Future Farmers of America and Regional Occupation Program; proceeds from the sale of orchids benefit the school’s horticulture program.
Orchids are the largest group of flowering plant on the planet, with more than 26,000 species growing naturally throughout the world, according to the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. In addition, growers have cultivated thousands of hybrid varieties. While the biggest concentration of natural orchids is found in the tropics — primarily Asia and South and Central America — orchids are found on all of the world’s continents except Antarctica. They grow in a variety of environments, ranging from the edge of deserts to the middle of humid rainforests. With such a varied range, it’s no surprise Central Coast growers have been able to successfully raise orchids outdoors, at least part of the year.